We studied Genesis 18-23 in our family study this past week. The story about Lot’s family living in Sodom bothered me, and I’ve struggled with how to apply those scriptures into my life. This morning, I read additional materials about those chapters to understand them better.
I came across the following in a seminary teacher’s edition manual that gave me more insight into the thoughts and actions of Lot’s wife and daughters:
- To forsake sin and evil influences, we must leave them entirely and not look back. What are some ways a person might be tempted to “look back” upon sins or evil influences that were previously a part of his or her life?
- Lot’s daughters may provide another example of how the wickedness in Sodom had negatively influenced members of Lot’s family. Although Lot was not a wicked man, his decision to bring his family to live among evil influences resulted in serious consequences.
I appreciate the wisdom this other resource shed on the Bible. We live in a world filled with evil and wickedness. Even those trying to live righteously can become confused and misguided. It takes considerable effort to forsake sin and evil tendencies and surround yourself and your family with positive influences.
Intentional Positive Influences
I’ve considered what I’m surrounding myself with that can influence my thoughts, feelings, and ultimately my choices. I’m grateful I’ve chosen to read 25 non-fiction books in 2022 to grow my mind in positive ways this year. One of the best books I’ve read so far is “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor. This book is a positive example of how influences affect attitude, performance, and achievement. The following excerpt is a central premise of the book:
For untold generations, we have been led to believe that happiness orbited around success. That if we work hard enough, we will be successful, and only if we are successful will we become happy. Success was thought to be the fixed point of the work universe, with happiness revolving around it. Now, thanks to breakthroughs in the burgeoning field of positive psychology, we are learning that the opposite is true. When we are happy – when our mindset and mood are positive – we are smarter, more motivated, thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.The Happiness Advantage, p. 37
The Positive Influences of Gratitude
Achor expounds on multiple principles of positive psychology and teaches how even those not predisposed to a positive attitude can create positive change. Not surprisingly, one of the principles of happiness is gratitude.
Countless other studies have shown that consistently grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely. And it’s not that people are only grateful because they are happier, either; gratitude has proven to be a significant cause of positive outcomes. When researchers pick random volunteers and train them to be more grateful over a period of a few weeks, they become happier and more optimistic, feel more socially connected, enjoy better quality sleep, and even experience fewer headaches than control groups.The Happiness Advantage, p. 97-8
With such impressive results, you’d think that gratitude would be a daily focus instead only of a November tradition. I encourage you to improve the consistency of your gratitude practice and take it to a deeper level with our Gratitude email course.
I know that as we surround ourselves with good and positive influences and practices, we will have significant, perhaps even life-changing, results. Even though I’ve only been reading for two months, I can already see the positive effect on my mood and attitude. I’m excited to see the changes that will continue over the next ten months.
If you have slipped from your 2022 goals or maybe didn’t even create any new year’s resolutions, I invite you to re-start now! What positive influences do you want to increase in your life? It’s never too late to start or course correct. The sooner we do, the bigger the compounding effect will be in our lives!